written by Mary Day, CCE Capstone student
The week brought the most mentally engaging discussion to the Be You after-school program. The theme was “leadership.” Focusing on prominent leaders in our society today, what makes a great leader, and when the children have been a leader ignited mature conversation. Answers of prominent, influential leaders varied and ten-year-old, Jamari, shouted out Nelson Mandela as his favorite leader. Others included Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Obama with a few grandmothers, grandfathers, and teachers mixed in. To delve deeper, the children were asked what characteristics make a truly great leader. Janiyah asked if courage would “work” as a characteristic for a leader. Shy at first, each child began with hesitance, but after being affirmed in their thoughts and supplied numerous answers. In their eyes, to be a great leader you must have confidence, love, honesty, courage, compassion, helpfulness, and kindness. But as discussion continued, the volunteers realized that these children did not recognize that they, themselves, were leaders. The participants were posed a question that reaped furrowed brows that evolved into bright eyes that showed realization. Simply asked, “when have you been a leader?” helped bring the children to the truth of their own potential as present and future leaders. To help them maintain the belief and remember in the future, we created Leadership Frames. On four popsicle sticks, each participant inscribed a leadership characteristic on each stick. They then glued them in the shape of a square to create their frame. Each child was photographed with their frame and then were tasked with hanging the frame somewhere in which they would see it daily. The frame represents the characteristics they hold to be important in being a great leader, that they are already leaders, they will always be leaders, and to use the characteristics to find the leader in others. Leadership is a marveling concept, one that must be made tangible and achievable. Each child at Ridgecrest is an amazing leader, now they have the future to take it further.